Before COVID interrupted, the PA NJ Chapter had started the year with a great week at the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg. This is a big annual event and we recruit over 20 volunteers each year to help manage our booth. By all accounts the big attraction at our booth this year were the cool prizes in our Chestnut Restoration Raffle. And top among these was an electric guitar, hand-crafted from American chestnut by Douglas Brownell, son of members Vicki and Dave Brownell. You can read the full story of how this came to be in page 6 our Fall 2019 issue of The Chestnut Tree, our print newsletter.
Winners were drawn in March at our Spring Growers Meeting turned Zoom webinar. Despite the loss of our in-person gathering the raffle succeeded in raising over $700 and drawing attention to the American chestnut with the amazing hand-crafted items that were donated by our members.
Long Delayed Conclusion: On a hot saturday in July, Jean Najjar hand-delivered the Brownell guitar to the lucky winner at a pre-arranged meeting point near Raystown Lake. The young winner, Ayssa Payne, just 15 had purchased a single ticket at the PA Farm Show in January. She is a music lover and was really amazed that she had won. She shared this note of appreciation:
When I first saw the guitar, I was quite honestly in awe. It was so beautiful and learning the history about the guitar just made it even better. I entered the raffle pretty much expecting to not win, but knowing at least that I was helping out TACF in their mission to restore it. The chestnut is such a beautiful tree and I have always loved nature and helping to preserve it in any way. I just want to say thank you for this beautiful guitar and that I am hoping that will see these beautiful trees back into the wild again.
Let’s hope we hear some beautiful music in the future from this thoughtful young woman.